A good clean-out
  |  First Published: August 2001

While the two weeks of rain and the resulting localised flooding has largely been pushed to the back of our memories, the effect is ongoing.

I always consider flooding as a flushing and a new start that can be taken advantage of. Stubborn schools of bream and blackfish that were hanging around in the lake have hopefully been pushed out to the coastal rocks, along with the baitfish and prawns that couldn’t stand the fresh.

The breakwall has had a few exotics hanging around, perhaps taking advantage of the ample bait, including giant trevally, and a 2.5kg mangrove jack caught during the Gamakatsu comp at the end of the Forster Wall.

The run of school jew has waned as expected, with the mullet run over for another season. There are still a few large jew hanging around and these 10kg-plus models are worth the effort to collect live bait and wait for the bottom of the run-out tide.

Slimy mackerel are generally available on the end of the Tuncurry Wall, as is the odd yellowtail.

Tailor and salmon are rock and breakwall staples this time of year and persistent spinning or bait fishing will turn results for tailor well over a kilo and salmon up to 5kg.

Spinning from the rocks with surface poppers is a visually rewarding experience and a good way to fill a bucket with fillets. Of course, the tailor and salmon will respond to bait, but where’s the fun in that?

As expected, the luderick are scouting the ocean rocks and finding them in backwaters and eddies is easy in the low-light periods.

Big bream, too, are littering the coastal washes and the beach fringes where a mullet strip or pilchard tail will bring them undone. Cooked prawns and yabbies are great baits, too.

Fish light around the washes with 00 and 0 size ball sinkers and a 1 to 2/0 baitholder hook and with enough weight on the beach to slow the surge drift of the wave action.

An incoming tide is ideal and combined with low light conditions, the fish should be easy targets.


Word is the snapper are going off along the coastal reefs. Fish up to 8kg have been regularly taken and trag also are filling bags. Bait and soft plastics have been working and catching a limit isn’t difficult if you can find the schools.

Old Bar and Blackhead are good starting points to look on the shallower reefs. The snapper will be taking advantage of the cuttlefish spawning period through the Winter.

Trolling around the headlands will produce tailor, salmon and some rat kings. Bennetts Head had packs of kings and mack tuna tormenting a large school of slimies below the lookout the other day and while ever the bait schools hug the rocks, the large predators will be hanging around.


Bream around the lower lake will be good after the flood, which tends to produce a limited kill on the cunjevoi under the bridge and on lease poles. The bream will gorge themselves on the dead cunje and are only too willing to take other baits and soft plastics.

The bream are also quite plentiful along the Tuncurry Channel from the bridge to the rock pool and evenings spent drifting yabbies with the falling tide have produced some good bags of fish, some over a kilo.

I have heard there were kingfish in the lake and while they are probably not a viable target, the tailor that are still haunting The Step and deeper edges around Wallis Island and Hells Gate are more likely candidates.

Some of the fish are being caught on drifted baits but lures cast in the moving water or through agitated bait schools early in the morning are far more productive.

While flathead are not considered a Winter species they are about and if you are lure fishing for them you will need to slow the retrieve a little to accommodate the slightly slower reaction times of these fish in the cooler water.

The pick of the fishing has to be the ocean rocks or the bream on the breakwalls. There are plenty of options and, weather permitting, the snapper are well worth a look.

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